Quitting Money: crazy? or free? or crazy free?

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My relationship with money has been evolving. In large part due to running a creative business, I’ve gotten more comfortable with money. I’m more involved, more responsible, more aware. I enjoy spending and earning money in ways that feel good.

Still, sometimes I fantasize about not needing money at all. And not because I’m afraid of it or don’t want to deal. It’s because I’m genuinely curious about what life might be like without it.

Money is a human invention. What if I simply rejected using the invention?

(Yes, I was one of those kids who read “Walden” in high school and daydreamed about my own “Into the Wild” adventure.)

This week I heard a radio interview with a man who stopped daydreaming and actually quit interacting with money. Twelve years ago, Daniel Suelo left his last $30 in a phone booth, and hasn’t had a financial transaction since. Sometimes he works, but he never accepts money. He doesn’t panhandle or take donations. He doesn’t even barter. He lives in a cave, forages in dumpsters and the wild for food, and eats roadkill.

You may think that some moneyless dude who lives in a cave and has dead raccoon for dinner is a total nutter, but he’s educated. Mentally well. Principled. And refreshingly non-judgemental towards those of us who play the money game.

In his words, “I know it is possible to live with zero money. Abundantly.”

While Daniel’s lifestyle choice may be fascinating or worrisome or both to you, the real questions are: What do you truly need? What you do truly want? And are you willing to test assumptions to find what works for you?

Want to read more about Daniel? Check out “The Man Who Quit Money” by Mark Sundeen.

Gathering light,

7 thoughts on “Quitting Money: crazy? or free? or crazy free?

  1. While I haven’t quit money to that extent, when I was made redundant after being on maternity leave I had nothing. Not one penny. So I spent nothing. Even when I started earning again I didn’t spend it (it was in Paypal). I went months and months without touching any money to the point where I almost forgot what it was like to hold it or use a bank card. It actually helped me gain a better relationship with money. I learnt I didn’t need most of the things I thought I needed- the daily Starbucks and muffin on the commute or the latest magazine. My husband did still pay the bills and keep a roof over our head but I still found the experience to be very insightful. Great post!

  2. I think that eliminating money is really just semantics.
    For example say you and your neighbour both have small farm lots and you decide to eliminate money in your transactions with each other. You trade your vegetables for her eggs and milk. Great. But what is a zucchini’s value relative to an egg? So you have to figure out a value system. Perhaps you assign it a name like ‘eggs worth’. So lets say one week you don’t need any milk, but your neighbour would still like some veggies. She says, ‘you can just get the milk when you need it’ she even writes you an note saying you are owed ‘8 eggs worth of milk’. Soon you are trading with several neighbours and After a while you are accumulating lots of different IOU’s for goods received. How is this superior to just using cash? Bartering for goods is great, but at some point cash makes the process simpler.
    The way money makes some people act is certainly a problem, but people who are greedy an immoral will still try to scam any system, whether money is involved or not.
    I try to view money are what it is, simply a marker for goods and labour I have produced, and can redeem later for something I need.

  3. Chantelle, the interesting thing about Daniel’s choice is that he’s not bartering. He works, but he doesn’t accept money for it. I think that raises really great questions about worth and value. And I think it’s less about thinking of money as good or bad, and more about choosing how you engage (or don’t) with it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  4. I agree that we need to rethink our relationship with money from time to time, but as long as I look at it as a tool and understand that it has no value beyond what we give it, I think I’m O.K. I don’t see money as evil, but when I read this, my first thought was ewww. How does he bathe? Stay warm? How exhausted is he at the end of the day? I’ve lived without money, although not by choice, and it is exhausting! Call me conformist, but I like all the things that money can buy, and I have no desire to forfeit the power to make my life better.

  5. I love your way of thinking. Before I even started reading your post I was drawn to the photo. I think some people live the richest lives when they don’t have any money. I think this boils down to your perception of money and the ability to detach yourself from it.

    The world is a beautiful place… and at one time is existed without money.

    Andy

  6. I love your way of thinking. Before I even started reading your post I was drawn to the photo. I think some people live the richest lives when they don’t have any money. I think this boils down to your perception of money and the ability to detach yourself from it.

    The world is a beautiful place… and at one time is existed without money.

    Andy

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